Showing Hospitality WITH Your Kids


We moved around the kitchen together, putting away, picking up, drying, washing. I noticed her sighs become heavier along the way, no longer muffled but full-blown. The knot of anxiety tightened in my chest; the forceful whisper of her sigh was louder than a freight train in my ear. At that moment, I just wanted someone–anyone–to help without sighing.

I also wanted to give her a piece of my mind.

“DO you know how much I do around here? DO you understand that you have free food everyday and a roof over your head because of what other people do for you? So, can you P L E A S E put away a few dishes WITHOUT sighing?”

Okay, that’s happened. More times than I’d like to admit. I like a quick fix, especially when we’re getting ready for company. But this time, I paused before I reacted (key) and thought before I spoke (really KEY).

I took her face in my hands and said: “Part of the joy of having company is the preparation. It doesn’t have to be a drag. We get to anticipate the arrival of our guests all day and work together to create an inviting space.”

She softened a little after these words and replied, “Yeah, you’re right.” Her eyes began to twinkle with the same anticipation that I had. Then, guess what? The sighing stopped. Really.

We continued our work, but with a new willingness to enjoy the work together.

Oh, this scenario is rife with parenting lessons like:

#1 “A fool (me) shows his annoyance (at sighing) at once, but the prudent overlook an insult (Proverbs 12:16).”

If I just take a few second to collect myself, things usually go a lot better and the situation doesn’t escalate.

#2 Kids love to have things spelled out for them. Sometimes a plan comes together perfectly in my mind, but if I haven’t communicated that vision to my kids, it flops. It’s always helpful for them if I explain what’s happening for the day and what I expect from them before the day begins. There’s usually less groaning and sighing because they know what to expect.

#3 The real reason for this post: You can be hospitable, even if you have kids, even WITH your kids.

Honestly, I often get incredulous responses when people find out I’m hosting a dinner party. I guess it’s the whole 4-kids-thing (including an almost 2-year-old toddler). I agree, partly, with their responses. Sometimes I think I AM crazy for adding extra mouths to the table when I already feed 6 people EVERY day.

But the truth is: I’d go crazy if I didn’t invite people into our home.

I’ll let you in on a Davis family secret: one of the best ways to get over the aggravations that rumble under the surface of everyday life is to have other people over. (Stop laughing; I’m serious.)

It’s a chance for us as a family to stop navel-gazing and begin thinking about the needs of others. It’s amazing how many tensions have melted away when our attention turns away from ourselves toward others.

I’ve seen it happen countless times, and I’ve been doing this gig for over 13 years.

One more thing: Life doesn’t have to stop when you have kids. A slower pace sets in, for sure, but it’s also an opportunity for your kids to GO with you and TAKE PART in the things you value.

Okay, so now that the pep talk is over, here’s the breakdown of the next 3 posts:

#1 Helpful Hints for Hospitality with Young Kids 

#2 Helpful Hints for Hospitality with Older Kids

#3 Hospitality Stories

I really hope this series is helpful for you. Please feel free to shoot me any questions during the hospitality series in the comments below or on my Facebook page.

I’ll sign off with these two L O V E L Y quotes about hospitality. (And really, who doesn’t want to entertain angels?!)

“The heart of hospitality is about creating space for someone to feel seen and heard and loved. It’s about declaring your table a safe zone, a place of warmth and nourishment.”
― Shauna Niequist, Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table, with Recipes

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:2

  • marcella

    Great thoughts on hospitality, Julie. You inspire me :) And the Davis family secret is so true.. Getting to hear someone else’s thoughts is almost always a refreshing change of pace at our dinner table. AND it expands our understanding of ‘family’, even if it is messy/interrupted at times.

    • Julie Davis

      Yes. I love the idea of extending the word “family.” I’d love to see my family doing life together with other people on a regular basis, especially around the table. Everything just seems so fragmented these days.

  • Kristi

    love this series already!